I’d only written the first paragraph of this story when fellow authors in a writing group read it, and insisted I made it a romance including ‘The big, bad wolf,’ eggnog and ‘The Spirit of Christmas.’ Ask and thou shall receive. 😀
It was freezing. Clad only in her pixie costume, Zoe had assumed the car heater would keep her warm enough for the short distance she needed to travel. That was her first mistake. The second had been not checking she had enough petrol.
Technically her third had been forgetting that this late on Christmas Eve a lot of garages would already be closed. It was not her fault that the diversion from a fallen tree left her travelling along a deserted country road, with the snow starting to fall and the car spluttering to a halt.
The darkness closing in was worrying, so she was not sure if she was relieved or concerned when she saw the distant lights of another car. It pulled in behind her, the car door opened and six feet of well-built male started walking towards her.
As he approached she noticed something odd about him, but at first she couldn’t put her finger on exactly what seemed out of place. As he leaned into the car window she realised. What she had assumed was a thick overcoat was actually fur; he looked like a big, bad wolf.
‘Can I help? What seems to be the problem?’
At least he spoke English and hadn’t howled at her. No sooner had the thought crossed her mind than she glanced up and saw there was a full moon shining through the trees.
‘I had to take the diversion and now I’ve run out of petrol,’ she stuttered as she opened the window, and then to her horror burst into tears.
‘Hey, it’s not that bad. We can sort something out. Does your car take diesel or petrol? Perhaps I can siphon off enough from mine to get you on your way?’
‘Petrol,’ she sniffed, trying to dry her eyes, although he was so tall she couldn’t see his face, so she wasn’t sure if he could see hers. At least his voice sounded comforting.
‘Hmm, mine’s diesel, so it sounds like Plan B. I noticed the garage was closed when I passed, so the nearest one likely to be open is about ten miles away. There’s a lay-by a few yards ahead, take the handbrake off and I’ll give you a push so at least the car will be out of the way. I’ve got to be somewhere so the easiest thing is if you come with me for an hour or so, then we can sort the car out later. I could call the breakdown but they might be a couple of hours, and I don’t want to leave you sitting alone out here. OK?’
Before she could reply he had gone to the rear of the car, and all she could see was the outline of what appeared to be a giant animal braced against her boot. Letting off the brake she felt the car start to roll forward as he pushed. Within a few minutes she had steered into a rough car park, feeling stupid that she hadn’t thought of moving to a safer place herself, but then she wouldn’t have been able to manage on her own anyway.
Decision time. Should she trust a perfect stranger, or sit alone and take her chances. The sudden hooting of an owl made her jump, and before she realised it she had opened the door and was stepping out of the car. The chill of the night made her realise how scantily dressed she was, and as she looked up into a pair of dark brown eyes she saw his eyebrows rise, and a smile cross his face.
‘My cars open. You don’t look exactly dressed for this weather so you’d better hop in quick.’
Locking her car Zoe made a quick dash into the front seat of his, and revelled in the warmth coming from the heater.
‘Are you a real pixie?’ a little voice asked from the back seat. Turning she saw three young children gazing at her.
‘Not really. I’m just helping out for a while, as they’re all busy with Santa Claus. My names Zoe. Nice to meet you.’
‘I’m Penny and that’s Twopence. We’re twins. And that’s Sarah, the little one.’
‘I’m Tommy, not twopence,’ the boy said, as the other girl chimed in ‘I’m not little, just littler than you.’
A deeper voice joined in the conversation. ‘I see you’ve all introduced yourselves. I’m Mike by the way. Now, I’d better get these horrors back to their siblings before Mum starts panicking.’
Putting on his seatbelt, Mike continued his interrupted journey and ten minutes later pulled into the drive of a rather grand house, set a little back from the road. As the kids jumped out, a very attractive woman came to the door to envelop them in hugs.
‘I won’t be a minute,’ Mike said, as he too got out and went up to the front door. Zoe couldn’t help noticing the woman also hugged him as he stopped to talk to her, obviously explaining about the lady in distress.
‘Just my luck,’ Zoe thought to herself, ‘not only married but he must have at least five kids, as well as a gorgeous wife.’
‘Right, let’s go,’ Mike said as he got back into the car and drove off again. This time he pulled into what appeared to be a community centre. ‘Here, take my coat until you get inside. It’s warm in there, and don’t worry about your costume. They’ll be plenty of people dressed up.’
Entering in front of him Zoe saw the large space was decked out for the festivities. Dotted around the room were a variety of imps, elves and Santa’s helpers, and the tables groaned under the weight of the food on them.
‘Coffee, tea or wine?’ Mike asked as he led her to a spare chair. ‘Help yourself to something to eat.’
‘A white wine would be nice, thanks.’
After bringing her drink Mike excused himself, saying he wouldn’t be more than an hour, then left her alone. Zoe realised she was starving and piled a plate from the buffet, then perused the room as she ate. It was crowded with all ages from youngsters to grandparents, many singing along to the carols emanating from the loud speakers.
‘Ladies and Gentleman.’ The music stopped as a portly man wearing Mayor’s insignia took the stage. ‘As usual the committee have arranged a wonderful day for our Christmas fete, and I’d like you all to join me in showing our appreciation.’
As Zoe looked round, her gaze caught sight of a lady ushering in a troupe of children. Three of them she recognised as the ones from Mike’s car, two older ones had the same features, and all were dressed in identical outfits.
‘Ah, I see our junior entertainers have arrived. Please welcome them as they join our older members for the performance. We will shortly be welcoming a very special gentleman so I hope you have all been good boys and girls. Let the show begin. Ladies and Gentleman, I give to you “The Spirit of Christmas.”’
Zoe found she was enjoying the pantomime, and laughed with the others as the Spirit had too much eggnog, and ended up in a ditch, face down in some realistic looking snow. Things fell into place when the big bad wolf appeared, and she recognised Mike. It explained why he couldn’t let everyone down, but it didn’t stop her joining in the boos as he roared and showed his teeth at the children. Serves him right for making her heart beat too fast when he was already taken. She joined in the cheering when Father Christmas came to the rescue, and was so engrossed she jumped when she realised Mike’s wife had joined her at her table.
‘What did you think of it? My brother might look like a bit scary but he’s a real softie at heart. The children go mad when “Uncle Mike” comes over. Sometimes I think he’s a bigger kid than they are,’ she laughed.
Brother? Uncle Mike?
As he came over to join them Zoe silently thanked Santa Claus for what she hoped would be the best Christmas ever, and promised to be a very good girl in future.
© Voinks November 2017